Rebel by vocation

Seán O’Faoláin and the generation of The Bell

Author: Niall Carson

Rebel by Vocation: Seán O’Faoláin and the Generation of The Bell tells the story of O’Faoláin and The Bell through the characters and writers that surrounded its offices in Dublin. It is the emergence of a post-independence national character that The Bell best embodies and this theme will be examined throughout the monograph to produce the first comprehensive ‘biography’ of this seminal literary journal, focussing on the dominant personality in its early years in Seán O’Faoláin with important excursions into the lives of the other principal contributors. It is based on exciting new archival research on O’Faoláin and his co-editor Peadar O’Donnell, who drew around them a generation of diverse and talented writers in The Bell that flourished in the shadows of W.B. Yeats and James Joyce. Drawing comparisons with other literary movements in America and the United Kingdom, this work shows the early influences on O’Faoláin’s writing during the first half of the twentieth century and reveals the complexity of his thought on topics as varied as religion, censorship, the Irish novel and republicanism. This book will challenge the accepted thesis that lauds O’Faoláin and The Bell as the voice of an independent, intellectual, and cultural elite in Ireland, and complicates the received wisdom on its relationship to censorship, the church, and the state.

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‘The book is a significant contribution that deserves a wide readership.'
Brad Kent, Université Laval
Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, Vol. 40

‘The book makes excellent use of archival research, including fascinating material quoted from O'Faolains's dealings with the BBC.'
Claire connolly
Irish Times
May 2016

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